Are we all working too hard? During the 19th century, labour leaders campaigned for the “eight-hour day”. Until that point, it was common to work six days a week, with a typical working day of between 10-16 hours. New technologies and stricter labour laws seemed to be paving the way for an increased life of leisure, with the economist John Maynard Keynes going so far as to predict a 15-hour week within a century.

In recent years, some companies have been trailing a four-day work week. One New Zealand firm has recently declared its experiment a resounding success, arguing that its employees are much more productive if they have more time to recuperate and balance other commitments. Proponents argue that a shorter working week favours employees looking for more flexibility, including people trying to balance caring for children or other family members. However, some argue that stress levels can actually go up, as employees are expected to do more with less time, and they see a four-day work week as an excuse to cut salaries while expecting workers to do the same amount of work.

In the Netherlands, it is already common for employees to take a “mummy day” or “daddy day” off each week to look after their kids. The Dutch work on average only around 29 hours a week, yet the Netherlands is still one of the wealthiest countries in the world, with a GDP per capita of over $50,000. Should more countries follow their lead?

Should everyone have a four-day work week? Are we all working too hard? Could a four-day work week promote lower stress levels and happier, more productive employees? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: Bigstock (c) – Flynt


17 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Mathilde

    The question is whom? Sounds to me mostly government employees…

    Not everybody has the luxury to have 4-day weeks. What about doctors, service industry (bus, train, tram, taxi), airport, etc…

    • avatar
      Moreno

      Well, that could be resolved hiring more doctors and technicians that would also help to lower the unemployment level.
      My concerns are about the salary, not many people earn so much that they can afford a cut of 20%.

    • avatar
      Stefan Gräßlin

      the idea is that everybody should have the “luxury” of a 4 days week. even doctors, service industry (bus, train, tram, taxi), airport, etc… we have to reorganize some things to make it happen.

  2. avatar
    Manuel

    It can be scientifically demonstrated that there are maximum values (that are a statistical averages) for a good physical and mental health that should not be exceeded. Lower values than these maximum values are political management, or governmental or religion ones.

  3. avatar
    Ivan

    If you only want to be paid for a 4 day week, not sure people would be happy taking a 20% pay cut though.

  4. avatar
    Ada

    Feel free to apply it at Debating Europe or Friends of Europe and then let us know!

  5. avatar
    Nádia Correia

    Maybe decreasing right away to 4h would be too extreme, but just going back to the 6h day we had before would be great. We should be working less and be able to take better care of our families. we would need less money to actually hire extra services because we work too much. Our kids should not be 8h a day under someone else care and we should not be buying so much industrial and disposable items because we don’t have the time to produce or fix them on our own. Also our creativity and capacity to engage in non-profit activities, like volunteer and citizenship related activities, would be bigger and society could only benefit from that.

  6. avatar
    Mircea

    Will be an economical result due the fact that less and less people will produce the neccesary of living for more and more people. This means that will be a real crissis for jobs. The problem would be resolve, at first stage, by reducing the time for work.

    Somebody said that not only public jobs, not, will be for all jobs. Even for public service If will be 5 days working weak, also could be 6 days, but 3-4 days will work one, 3-4 days will work another. The same could be in privat sector.

  7. avatar
    Chris

    Could be a start but in combination with other key factors.

  8. avatar
    Antonio

    Each country is different, that’s not an easy question to answer. What’s true is that we need to think not only about that but also on a new formula to spend more time with the family. I think it may work…

  9. avatar
    Nuno

    I think having a fixed minimum income per hour is better.

  10. avatar
    Sárdi

    That would decrease the situation of over production. I hope protesters in France ask for this. Yes!

  11. avatar
    Julia

    Great idea. Give more people a job. However must be subsidised by an unconditional basic income.

  12. avatar
    Róbert

    It shouldn’t be regulated at all. Small businesses can’t afford to hire employees if they have to pay a full payed leave day every week. We need jobs, not entitlements. If the employer is able to offer it, or the employee to negotiate it, then they should be free to do so, but just keep the government out of it.

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